Friday, February 25, 2011

Deaconess or Deacon. Servant or true deacon?

I have a feeling this post is going to attract some negative feedback. Well, I'm not posting this to be attractive or to hurt the feelings of anyone reading. However, some questions were raised regarding this issue after I "checked in" on a social network during class and posted "Women as deacons? Ha! What a class — at Logsdon Seminary." The comments back on that were pretty sudden as people asked why I was posting this and what my intention was behind it. There were also opinions raised about women as deacons....and I decided it was time to give my point of view. So, here we go. 

Please read this with open heart and don't throw tomatoes until much later...if at all. Kthanks. 

First of all, this is definitely an area of debate in churches and in the minds of many Christians. I'm sharing my opinion so please respect that.

I want to address the qualifications for being a deacon according to scripture: 
"Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued,not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. (11) Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus. I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth." (1 Tim. 3:8-15)

Ok, I know it didn't specifically say "a hair-growing-back-scratching-deep-breathing-man", but notice what it DID say
1. they are to be (or have been)  married to one woman and that wife must be dignified and not slanderous.
 God says they are to be married to a WIFE. Ergo, they must be male.

I will tell you, that there is some debate over the word "wife" in verse 11, thus the parentheses. That word "wife" can translate as "women". So that is why some believe this verse to be targeting women deacons as well. Looking at the context, I believe that God was talking about wives because he goes straight into talking about family and does not give instructions for a "deaconess" and her marital or family relationship. It would be almost like he gave directions to only deacons were that the case.

Then someone else raises the question of the "deaconess" Phoebe mentioned in Romans 16:1. A friend of mine, Steve, raised this point on my post...
"Romans 16:1 I don't know about your church, but nothing would ever be accomplished at mine if the women were not around...."

Great point, Steve. I know that in our church women are VITAL to how things run. AKA: nursery, women Bible study leaders, keeping our pastor's schedule...I can't even begin to tell you how many women serve in our church. But that's just the key word..."serve." Romans 16:1 states: "I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchrea...."

That word servant could be translated as "deacon"...or it could not. The definition of "servant" is
1) one who executes the commands of another, esp. of a master, a servant, attendant, minister
     a) the servant of a king
     b) a deacon, one who, by virtue of the office assigned to him by the church, cares for the poor and    has charge of and distributes the money collected for their use
     c) a waiter, one who serves food and drink

Deacon is listed as a possible definition under the initial definition, yes. I will fully admit that. And the word servant is both a masculine and a feminine pronoun. So some see this as being the call for women deacons as well. But I like the way this person said it:

"Romans 16:1 refers to Phoebe with the same word Paul uses in 1 Timothy 3:12. It is unclear, though, whether Paul is saying Phoebe is a deacon or whether he is just saying she is a servant. In the early church, women servants cared for sick believers, the poor, strangers, and those in prison. They instructed women and children (Titus 2:3-5). Phoebe may not have had the official designation of “deacon” but Paul thought enough of her to entrust her with the tremendous responsibility of delivering the epistle to the Romans to the church in Rome (Romans 16:1-2). Clearly he saw her not as inferior or less capable, but as a trusted and valued member of the body of Christ." (Site)

Let's face it. I'm a woman. And I am a woman advocate. I believe God created women as submissive being, though. I don't believe women can do everything men can do, and I don't believe God created us that way. And guess what....I'm secure in that. I'm secure in knowing that he designed MEN to lead me and to lead our churches under His will. He hasn't robbed me of serving in the church, in fact he WANTS me to! He designed roles for women in the church specifically for teaching: "Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God" (Titus 2:3-5)

God has designed specific roles for serving within the church geared specifically for women. That doesn't include power or authority over a man. And guess what gals, that's TOTALLY ok....because that means that our men will answer to God for how the church is run. It's their job to listen for His voice, respond accordingly, or face the consequences if they don't. So that gives us the huge task of being on our knees in prayer for them...not trying to compete for their role as leader.

You might agree. You might disagree. I'm still researching myself! But God didn't address women deacons specifically--He addressed men. He didn't say women couldn't serve, and yes, that is the definition of the word "deacon". But God also didn't put women in a leadership official position in the church....and I choose to praise Him for that.

Ok, I'm off to skitter to class and wherever else I have to go today.
Because He lives,

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